Posted: Aug 19, 2021 6:35 am
by Seabass
I don't think it is alarmist to say that there is an actual possibility that 2020 may have been our last free and fair presidential election. If the Democrats don't do SOMETHING to get voter protection laws passed, what will stop Republicans from saying next time around, "Nah, we don't like those results, let's go with these results instead!"? We have one party that has fully rejected democracy and another that either can't or won't do anything to defend it (or what's left of it anyway).

10 new state laws shift power over elections to partisan entities

Among the dozens of election reform laws changing rules regarding how voters cast ballots, several have also diminished secretaries of states' authority over elections or shifted aspects of election administration to highly partisan bodies, such as state legislators themselves or unevenly bipartisan election boards.

"Inserting partisan actors into election administration ... is really a worrying trend when you understand it in the context of what happened in 2020," said Jessica Marsden, counsel for Protect Democracy, a nonprofit founded by former executive branch officials in the White House Counsel's Office and Department of Justice.

Partnering with States United Democracy Center and Law Forward, Protect Democracy distributed a memo raising the alarm over the "particularly dangerous trend" of state legislatures attempting to "politicize, criminalize, and interfere in election administration."

Analyzing the Voting Rights Lab's state-level bill tracker and bill descriptions, ABC News identified at least eight states, including battlegrounds Arizona and Georgia, that have enacted 10 laws so far this year that change election laws by bolstering partisan entities' power over the process or shifting election-related responsibilities from secretaries of state.

Each law was enacted by a Republican governor or by Republican-controlled legislatures voting to override Democratic governors' vetoes.

These new laws include one that requires local election boards in Arkansas to refer election law violation complaints to the State Board of Election Commissioners -- made up of five Republicans and just one Democrat -- instead of their respective county clerks and local prosecutors; another that generally bars the executive and judicial branches in Kansas from modifying election law; and one in Texas requiring the governor, lieutenant governor and state house speaker to "unanimously agree" to the secretary of state granting local election commissions' or boards' requests to accept donations over $1,000.

Some of these changes appear to be in direct retaliation to actions officials took last year around the election.

Arizona Democratic secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, can no longer represent the state in lawsuits defending its election code. That power now lies exclusively with the Republican attorney general -- but only through Jan. 2, 2023, when Hobbs' term ends.

In Kentucky, where the Republican secretary of state and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear were heralded for their bipartisan collaboration to give electors absentee and early voting options they'd never had before, state law now explicitly opposes such coordination during a state of emergency. Beshear vetoed this bill, which curtails his office's emergency powers, but the Republican-majority legislature voted to override him.

And in Montana, then-Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, used his emergency powers to authorize counties to conduct all-mail elections for the June primary and November election. Every county opted to do this in June, and about 80% of the state's counties, including the eight most populous, did in November. But in April, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law a bill barring the governor from changing election procedures unless the legislature signs off on it.

"This is unprecedented in ways that I couldn't have even dreamed up myself," Audrey Kline, the national policy director for the National Vote At Home Institute, told ABC News. "It does feel like there's a backlash, and there's really a misunderstanding about how elections really work."